Having trouble keeping motivated in your career?

Motivation is a key necessity in growing your career. If I haven’t already said it clearly before, persistence and time really is one of the biggest factors. If you have an Uncle or Grandma giving you business hand-me-downs, you may not need motivation or persistence.  But if you’re like the majority, you will require the time and patience to get from point A to point B in your career until you’re mostly satisfied and ready to settle.

If you think about it, education takes time, working your way from an entry-level position takes time, certifications take time, and so on. It is a progressive rhythm that you’ll be on until you find your niche and settle in a long-term position that makes you feel successful and content.

So, how do you stay motivated in the day-to-day while on your career journey?

This, my techies, is not an easy answer, nor is there one specific answer for everyone. Even though we’re all nerds, some like Mountain Dew and others like Dr. Pepper.  Some prefer WoW, others like Call of Duty (I prefer sports and blogging to games). But I am happy to share a couple ways you can recharge and keep motivated during the dry spells.  This is obviously a key discipline for life in general of course. Fitness, diet, mastering a skill and building your career all take discipline and motivation to accomplish most efficiently.  If you’d rather play video games, that’s fine, just don’t expect to wake up one day and magically have a glorious career, money in the bank and a bright future ahead of you if you aren’t dedicating some time and effort to keeping on track.

Certification Planning – Until you have a palette of certifications in your geek tool belt, you should be on a plan to study for, take and pass the exams that support and expand your skills.  I’ll leave the detail for another day but there is virtually no end to the certs out there today…find something, schedule the test and study well. Some companies even give you time during the week to study and prepare.  They also may have vouchers for exams or do exam reimbursement, all you have to do is ask. Getting one certification will give you the motivation and boost to continue moving forward. Plus, the addition to your resume is very nice.

Education – If you don’t have a degree, there’s never a better time to start than right now.  Online programs are all over the place and can really get you in gear studying, which really helps to study other technologies and possibly find your niche if you don’t already have one.  If you do have one, the degree can seem like just a piece of paper. But that expensive piece of paper is certainly necessary for 80-90% of the top jobs in IT. Without it, plan on having to make up for it in other areas, such as being in a highly specialized niche such as SAP Basis Engineer or iOS developer. Going to school will also keep you motivated as you finish credits and learn more interesting and cool material.

Test the Market – If you’re losing interest in your current position, maybe it’s time to test the market a bit and apply for some jobs.  Even if you don’t see yourself jumping to another position, you just never know what you will find. Sometimes an interview or two can give you a different perspective or also make you more hungry to get the skills or certs you’re missing, which is motivation enough.  You might even get the same effect just by looking at job boards for a while or posting on forums.

Time Away – If you’re burnt out, you probably just need time to recharge. When you do this, be sure to take the time reflecting on your goals and progress.  If you don’t have goals, you need to get some (we will talk more about that later)! Write things down or discuss them with your significant other, or close friends. Allow yourself to dream a little about what you want your career to be! This helped me immensely! My wife is a true dreamer and encouraged me to continue and push harder to reach my goals.

Chronicle Success – I always keep a folder in my mailbox called “Kudos and Praise”. Maybe it sounds rather cheesy, but I feed off of affirmation and small success builds into bigger success for me.  Each time I complete a project or a colleague or boss shoots me an “Atta boy”, I drag that email into my folder. Occasionally, I’ll spend a couple minutes looking at a few emails in there, reading the whole email string.  Doing so reminds me of small successes, problems I solved and even the “Attaboy” that followed it. If you’re like me, you probably just went “aha”, and you’ll go create that folder today! Don’t let anyone tell you that this is an ego trip, just ask them if they have any goals and have them email you 10 years from now to see where they’ve gotten in life.